Wild thing The short, spellbinding life of Jimi Hendrix

Philip Norman, 1943-

Book - 2020

"Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death, the best-selling author of Shout! delivers a compelling new biography of the legendary guitarist. Celebrated as the most innovative guitarist ever to play, Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) is renowned for symphonic solos and virtuosic picking (sometimes, with his teeth). But, as Philip Norman describes, before Hendrix was setting guitars aflame onstage, he was a shy kid in Seattle, plucking at a broken ukulele and looking out for his father, who chided him for playing left-handed. Interweaving new interviews with friends, lovers, bandmates, and his family, Wild Thing vividly reconstructs Hendrix's remarkable life- from playing in segregated clubs on the Chitlin' Ci...rcuit to earning stardom in Swinging London in 1966. For more than four mindboggling years Hendrix found unparalleled success, making historic appearances at Monterey and Woodstock while becoming the highest paid musician of his day, but it all abruptly ended with his tragic death in the sordid basement of a London hotel. Filled with insights into the greatest moments in rock history, Wild Thing reveals the endlessly complex figure behind the unforgettable riffs"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 781.66092/Hendrix Checked In
New York, NY : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc [2020]
Main Author
Philip Norman, 1943- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
391 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 359-365) and index.
  • Prologue
  • 'He was hearing music but didn't have an instrument to bring it to earth'
  • 'Jimmy was a hippy before anyone knew what a hippy was'
  • 'I still have my guitar and amp and as long as I have that no fool can stop me living'
  • 'Everything's so-so in this big raggedy city of New York'
  • 'I've got just the person for you'
  • 'Quite honestly, Chas...he's almost too good'
  • 'Oh my god, I'm not god any more'
  • 'Go out and buy us a tin of lighter fuel'
  • 'Not on my network'
  • 'From rumor to legend'
  • 'He was a life-saver'
  • Electric ladies
  • 'I'm going to die before I'm thirty'
  • 'Nothing but a band of gypsies'
  • Miles and miles
  • 'Dad, my love...'
  • 'Hey man, lend me your comb'
  • 'Just call me helium'
  • Goodnight sweet black prince'
  • 'A tall black guardian angel in a hat'
  • ''Scuse me while I kiss the pie'
  • Epilogue.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this rollicking biography, Norman (Paul McCartney) follows the electric guitar god from hardscrabble Seattle boyhood to enormous fame and his 1970 martyrdom to rock-star excess. (The author's lengthy postmortem considers conspiracy theory suspects--his manager, the mafia, the CIA--before returning to the official line that he overdosed on sleeping pills and drowned in his vomit.) Norman styles Hendrix as a great Black crossover pioneer who founded heavy metal with his flamboyant stagecraft and use of feedback and other effects in his virtuosic solos, which saw him play guitars with his teeth and behind his back and then hump, burn, and smash his instruments in ritual sacrifice. (Offstage, Hendrix is more shy naif than rock demon in Norman's telling.) Norman combines colorful, energetic picaresque--"It might have been a brilliant duet had not Morrison been helplessly drunk and ruined the recording by shouting 'I want to suck your cock' at Jimi until Janis Joplin subdued him by breaking a bottle over his head"--with lush evocations of Hendrix's sound. (One solo "resembles a thrillride through some extraterrestrial cityscape, each gush of the slide like a glowing elevator, sibiliantly ascending or descending.") Norman's entertaining, psychedelically tinged portrait shows why Hendrix made such a deep impression on rock 'n' roll. (Sept.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

James Marshall Hendrix (1942--70) will be forever remembered as one of the key figures in rock music. Rolling Stone magazine is not alone in ranking him "the greatest guitarist of all time." Sadly, he is also a member of the 27 Club, those memorable musicians including Robert Johnson, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse who all perished at that young age, and it's that tragedy that informs Norman's (Paul McCartney: A Life) book as much as the extraordinary musicianship of his subject. Norman weaves artistic achievement, personal struggles, and management difficulties together, making the tragic outcome seem if not acceptable then at least understandable. Occasional suggestions of what Hendrix might have been thinking notwithstanding, Norman avoids sounding overly sensationalist and draws heavily on his revered biographies of other key figures of the time for context and color. Readers searching for complete details of Hendrix's recorded work will need to look elsewhere, as this is by no means a definitive catalog of his output. But as a biography of the legendary ax man, this is the one. VERDICT There will be much interest in all things Hendrix on the 50th anniversary of his death this September. As his chronicler, Norman is, most definitely, experienced. Essential for music collections and anyone interested in Hendrix or music of the 1960s. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/20.]--Bill Baars, formerly with Lake Oswego P.L., OR

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A perceptive look at the rock superstar. Norman has created a successful niche for himself writing first-rate biographies of rock musicians, including John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Buddy Holly. Add to that esteemed list James Marshall Hendrix (1942-1970). Sharon Lawrence, a former reporter and a close, "platonic" friend of Hendrix's, was a consultant, and the title of the book ostensibly refers to Hendrix. However, born in Seattle to alcoholic parents, Jimi wasn't all that wild--until he got on stage, playing his guitar with his teeth, something he learned from a band mate, or smashing and burning it. Norman describes a poverty-stricken, shy youth whose aunt gave him the $5 he needed to buy his first guitar at age 15. Left-handed, he turned it upside down to play. "From that moment on," his brother recalls, he "lived only for the guitar." Hendrix dropped out of high school, did a stint in the Army, and played backup for the likes of Ray Charles, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard. His big break came thanks to Chas Chandler of the Animals, who was interested in trying management. Much impressed by Hendrix, he brought him to London in 1966 to perform, later signing him up. Chandler also found his band mates for the Jimi Hendrix Experience: bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Norman does a fine job recounting the remaining whirlwind years of his subject's life, discussing individual songs; the admiration of fellow guitarists; his stunning American debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, which turned him into a flamboyant fashion icon and a legend in his own time; and the "bizarre" tale of his plaster-cast penis. The author goes into detail about the days and hours before Hendrix's death in London from an overdose of sleeping pills. "Jimi's death," writes Norman, "would be replayed over and over, with as many variations, and improvisations, as one of his guitar solos." An intimate, accomplished biography of a peerless musician. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.